Dec 16, 2015

Warning, Warning. Cheer-O-Meter at Dangerously Low Levels

Christmas Eve is eight days away. Eight! The Holly Jolly and Rockin' Around and Fa La Las are getting louder and closer. And it seems that the more deeply we fall into the Christmas season, the more my Cheer-o-meter decreases. I'm afraid that by next week I'll be at level Almost-Grinch, a thought that makes me cringe with embarrassment.

I'm not sure what happened this year. My husband would probably argue that I started my Christmas Cheer too early, gung-ho and strong in November only to peter out a month later. He may have a point, although it hasn't seemed to bother me other years, but I think the more likely culprit is starting a job.

Transitioning into part-time work has actually been fairly smooth. I think my anticipation of how everything would look and feel was much more dramatic than the reality. The schedule works so wonderfully with being available for my kids, and the number of hours is just enough but not too much.

It still, however, has been an adjustment for me, which I think is why this Christmas season has not felt very Christmasy. It's not so much me being a grinch as it is being exhausted from the all the change and temporary chaos as we all adjust to a new schedule. Even though I am home right after lunchtime, the first half of the week feels completely booked up, because once I'm home it's time for Nora's nap (and mine) and shortly after she's up the older girls get home. By the time Thursday rolls around I feel like I need to recover from the first half of the week, or I am trying to fit in about one hundred things that I put off because of work.

Somehow the day-to-day mundane is overpowering the once-per-year holiday and I am left deflated and wondering how Christmas is next week and I don't feel more magic about it all.

Also, I'm blaming the weather. Because it's always about the weather. Not that I'm complaining about the temperatures, but mild temps and rainy? Doesn't sound much like Christmastime in Minnesota. Give me a little bit of snow and surely my Christmas Ho Hum will turn into Christmas Oh Joy!

Either way, I've got to figure out a way to get out of these doldrums and into the spirit of the season. This weekend we have our annual cookie baking extravaganza. What better way to put me in the Christmas spirit than wrangling four (five?) kids to cut out and decorate sugar cookies?




And if all else fails, perhaps it's time to watch a few more cheesy Christmas movies on TV.

xoxo, christine

Nov 30, 2015

The End

Well, today is the last day. The last day of writing every day this month. And the last day before I officially start work. Starting tomorrow I will no longer be scrambling to find something to write about every day. And I will no longer be a one hundred percent stay-at-home mom.

I'm not too worried about starting work. I don't feel nervous, in fact I think it will go well. But, I am feeling a bit overwhelmed and a bit...well, nervous. Not nervous for the job, but nervous to not be a stay-at-home mom anymore. I know, it's an extremely part-time position, only three mornings a week. I can hardly call myself a "working mother" now. But for me, who has been full time at home with my kids since 2008, this is a huge change.

I am nervous about the change.

I know that everything will be fine. The job will be fine. I will be fine. Nora will be fine. My mom will be fine. But I am still worried about how my mamaheart is going to feel tomorrow when it's time to say goodbye to Nora. Logically, I know that it is no different tomorrow than it is any other time my mom has watched Nora for me, but my heart knows that it's different because it's not just one appointment. It's not just here and there. It's not just once in awhile.

That is why, as I get ready for bed tonight, as I lay out clothes for tomorrow, as I start packing the girls' lunches, my hands feel shaky, my heart feels flip-floppy, and my eyes feel teary.

Everything will be okay. I'm not too worried about Nora. Although she may have a bit of an adjustment ahead of her, she also might not even notice the difference. And this job? It's a good opportunity for me, and a really good fit, for our family right now.

Maybe I just need to pretend that I'm going off to an appointment tomorrow. Maybe that will make me feel less sad, less guilty, less heartbroken about leaving Nora. Maybe I'll just pretend I'm going to an appointment every morning. Until the day that I don't. Because I know that someday (probably sooner than I realize) this will be the Normal, the Regular, the Routine. And everyone will be just fine. Even me.

*****

Thanks for reading my ramblings this past month. I'm really hoping to continue writing more regularly, although not every day.



Happy December!

xoxo, christine

Nov 29, 2015

Writing this Month

The month of November is coming to an end and so does my month of daily blogging. Things I have learned from blogging every day this month:

1. I'm not particularly happy with most of my writing from this past month. The quality is not the greatest, even though the quantity is plentiful. I think that writing every day does not bring out the best for me, yet I realize I'm not happy with only writing once per month either. So, I need to find a happy medium between almost never and every day.

2. If I want to keep writing regularly, I need to make it more of a priority. I'm not going to get up early to write (I can barely get up to get my kids on the bus in time), and when I try to write late at night I can hardly focus. So, either pull myself together and focus at night or find time during the day.

3. Instagram is so much easier than blogging. More fun too.

4. There are some things that I want to write about here but feel like I can't. But sometimes I really want to get things out, so then I settle for journaling.

5. Even though I'm not impressed with the quality of my writing lately, I am glad I've been writing more. I've missed it. And I'm going to try to do it more regularly. Because writing and taking the time for writing, is one thing that feeds me.

One more day to go!

xoxo, christine



Nov 28, 2015

And With That Break Is Almost Over

I am not ready for tomorrow to be Sunday. I am not ready for the weekend to be over. I am not ready for the girls to go back to school, for Adam to go back to work, for our regularly scheduled life to start back up.

It has been so relaxing being away from the stress of everyday life. No worrying about laundry or vacuuming. No walking into the bathroom and being reminded by the grime that I still haven't gotten around to cleaning the sink (or bathtub or toilet). No dishes piling up in the sink. No grocery lists to make. No furnace not working, then kind of working, then teasing us that next year our budget might need to include a new one.

Being with family has been wonderful. The older girls have been playing with their cousins almost non-stop, meaning they don't require a lot of extra time and energy from me. And having other adults around is always helpful with Miss Nora May. And I have gotten to read an entire book and watch cheesy Christmas movies.

This weekend launched me into full mode Christmas cheer, and I guess I'm a little afraid that break ending will dim the light that's been lit in me this weekend. But maybe if we crank up the Christmas music, and I keep up my streak of Christmas movie viewing it'll help keep some of that regular-every-day-stress at bay.

I'll try anyway.

Happy beginning of the Christmas season!

xoxo, christine

Nov 27, 2015

Friday Five

Well, another day, another lack of writing inspiration. Time for Five Random Things again.

1. It is the day after Thanksgiving and we are watching sap-filled but oh-so-uplifting Christmas movies on the Hallmark channel. They make me giggle, and sometimes snort in cheesiness, but at the same time, when the news if full of so much fear and bad, it's nice to numb my mind a bit with something that I know will be joy-filled with a happy ending.

2. I got matching winter pj's for all three of my girls. At ten dollars a pop it still feels like a lot of money to spend, but I am so excited. I wanted to get them matching jammies, but it's hard to find the same pattern in all three of the right sizes. Also, a pattern that all three girls will actually want to wear. Now, let's just hope I can get them to wear them at the same time.

3. I read a book in one sitting on Wednesday night. I stayed up until two in the morning finishing the book. I know. I know. I don't know how I get so caught up reading. It is absolutely ridiculous and it's not like the ending of the book is going to change if I finish it the next day.

4. I am so tired I am almost literally nodding off as I write this. So, maybe should be getting to bed before two o'clock tonight. And all nights.

5.  My oldest is sleeping over with her cousins. She was up around 6:15 this morning and I'm sure will be up late tonight because who goes to bed early at a sleepover. So I'm sure tomorrow will be a pleasant day for us all. But, it's Thanksgiving break and I'm glad that she has the chance to be with her cousins, who she absolutely adores.

And that's it. Good night.

xoxo, christine

Nov 26, 2015

Peace and Thanks

I am thankful that when there is so much sorrow and scary in the world, I can turn into my people and be reminded how much hope and love and peace there is too.

Even though the whole world does not celebrate the holiday, I am wishing a very happy and peaceful Thanksgiving to the world today. Because everyone deserves peace.

xoxo, christine

Nov 25, 2015

Sweet Thanksgiving Eve

It is the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. I have memories of spending the evening peeling and slicing apples as my family sat around the kitchen table preparing apple strudel. It probably wasn't every year, but the tradition is so set in my mind that I remember it like it was.

We have not continued the tradition of apple strudel the night before Thanksgiving, although I still have hopes that as the girls get older we will. I don't even care for cooked apples, but the memories of Thanksgiving weekends past are full of so much joy in my heart that I would love to continue the tradition with my own family.

We are not in the kitchen mixing the scents of cinnamon with sugar and apple, but we are with family, and my husband is in the kitchen doing some Thanksgiving prep. The stuffing family recipe is well under way and the turkey is receiving its preparations for tomorrow. The baby is asleep after a long day with a short nap, and the two older girls are watching "Despicable Me" with their grandpa.



Spending time with family, that's what makes the holiday special. No, we are not in the middle of apple strudel central tonight, but this weekend, this holiday, these memories, they are just as sweet.


xoxo, christine

Nov 24, 2015

A Post About Not Having A Post

I have started and restarted this post about twenty-four times. Okay, that might be an exaggeration, but I have started it a couple of times, and the rest of the time I've just been staring at a blank screen, the cursor blinking at me. *blink*blink*blinkblinkblinkblink*

It is mocking me and my inability to extract coherent thoughts out from my mind. The words are there, at least I think they are, hiding in the corners. It's not just that I can find poetic words to express my thoughts, it's that I can't even find the thoughts to begin with.

*blink*blink*blinkblinkblink*blinkblinkblinkblinkblinkityblinkityblinkyblinkyboo*ha ha ha I'm laughing at you*

*blinkblink*

(By the way, the laundry is doing a similar routine. I'm being mocked by everything around me.)


In which case, it is time to concede defeat.


PS. This is one of my outtakes from trying to get a photo of all three girls.

xoxo, christine

Nov 23, 2015

Monday? Check.

It was the first no school day of our week-long Thanksgiving break. It was also a Monday. So. Pass the coffee.

Our, First-Day-Off-Of-School-Monday-Before-Thanksgiving official To Do List was thoroughly marked up and crisscrossed and double checked and filled with way too many things but oh well because they can always be done tomorrow too.

Haircuts for the two big girls? Check. And smiley face check with a pat on the back because I even got them out the door around 9:15. Mostly because I wanted to get a coffee at the coffee shop next door to the hair salon, but hey, we were all still dressed and out the door so that counts.

Actual sit-down lunch? Check. Never mind that it was apple slices, cheese slices, crackers, and a handful of peanuts.

Get out the Christmas decorations? Check. And a bonus check for actually putting them up!



PS. The girls spent the next forty-five minutes playing with our nativity scene.



Nap for Nora and me? Check. Check. Exclamation pointy check!

Library to get books to read during this week of break? Check. I even got three for myself. Laughable, I know. I actually think I'm going to get any reading done? Ha, ha.

Dishes washed? Check.

Two out of three girls bathed? Check and check.

Dinner made? *blank stare*

Five loads of laundry folded? *crickets chirping*

House straightened up before bed? *blink blink*

Dishes from dinner tonight washed? *gulp*


Okay, so, we started out strong. Good thing I left all the fun stuff like folding 2348273040 loads of laundry for tomorrow.

xoxo, christine

Nov 22, 2015

The Family Clown

My grandma used to call me the Family Clown. My sister was the smart one and I was the funny one, and I was okay with that. In fact, I liked it. I got decent grades myself, and was far from the class clown in any classroom, but among my family members I loved being able to make them laugh, especially my grandma.

Maybe part of  it with my grandma was because we had a language barrier and I felt like being able to make her laugh was my way of connecting with her, but I liked that she found me funny, and I wore my badge of Family Clown with pride.

And I realized today, as I sat at dinner with a group of friends, exaggerating some of my parenting antics, watching my friends laugh and nod their heads in appreciation of the chaos that is parenting, that I still like being a "funny one." Knowing that my friends found my comments funny (partially because they could relate to the drama) gave me a sense of who I am. Or who I always was.

I was always the Family Clown.

But now, fifteen years and three kids later, I feel pretty far from that Family Clown. In fact, when it comes to my family dynamic, I'm pretty sure no one in this house would label me as funny. The crabby one? The discipliner? The one who yells about picking up the mess? Sure. Of course. But the one who is good for a laugh? The one who will lighten the mood with something funny? The one who can tell a story that makes make you laugh till you cry? Not so much.

Honestly? I miss that. And I didn't realize just how much I missed it until tonight.

Of course, I do want to qualify this. I'm not that funny. I don't claim to be any sort of comedian or anything. There are many so much more hilarious than I will ever be. Mostly, the point of this post isn't so much about being funny as it is about feeling like I lost part of myself somewhere in the road of growing up. But seeing my friends throwing back their heads in laughter as I described the state of my car and just why the state of my car could be declared a state of disaster, brought back that same feeling I remember from my childhood. That same pride I felt when my grandma referred to me as the Family Clown.

I may not be a Jay Leno or an Amy Schumer, (not that I even want to be) but yes, I can tell a story that makes people I love laugh. And I miss that about myself. I liked that about myself.

I don't know if this all means I need to stop taking myself so seriously at home. Or if I need to start telling more exaggerated stories about what motherhood (in my house) looks like. Or if I just need to start spending more time with my friends. But I'd like to feel more of the silliness of my personality. And I'd like for my kids and husband to experience some (more) of my silliness too.

On the rare occasions I've let my silliness out my kids have really embraced it. And people are always talking about how important a sense of humor is, especially in parenthood. So I should take this evening's revelation as an opportunity to find my humor again. It would be quite nice to do a little less stressing and a little more laughing.

Laugh as much as possible, always laugh. It's the sweetest thing one can do for oneself and one's fellow human beings.
         - Maya Angelou

xoxo, christine

Nov 21, 2015

A Picture Worth a Thousand Stresses

Oh my goodness we may have FINALLY gotten the whole too-many-photos-on-our-computer-taking-up-too-much-memory-where-can-we-download-them-and-still-have-adequate-access-to-them problem resolved!

Now, I realize that this is probably not really all that note worthy for anyone but me (and maybe my husband because, hello crazy photo obsessing wife), however, this has been stressing me out so so much that having this figured out takes a huge weight off my shoulders. I mean I was so overwhelmed about this that after he helped me, the support tech guy became another on my "favorite people" list. (The likes of which include the anesthesiologist who gave me my epidural during my first labor and delivery. Yeah, that's how overwhelmed I was about all of this photo stuff.)

One big major thing that has been etched in stone in big block letters on my To Do list can finally be crossed off. Oh, the freedom I feel!

I know, I know. I might sound a bit overdramatic, but you know those things that are hanging around on your To Do list and every time you go to actually do the thing you run into a new obstacle that actually adds things to you To Do list instead of crossing that one thing off? Well, this was my thing. Every time I tried to figure it out there were new problems that came up that prevented me from getting it taken care of. But now...now!

I can go to bed with a smile on my face. That is, if I get myself to bed. Now I'm so overjoyed that all I want to do is get all this stuff organized so that not only are the photos off the computer and accessible but also organized. Because I like me some organized stuff.

I know I'm ridiculous. I am just so happy and relieved. Thank you thank you thank you to the tech support guy who helped me out!

(And a special thank you to YOU who read this silly little post.)

xoxo, christine

Nov 20, 2015

On the First Day of Thanksgiving Break

The big girls ran from the bus stop in the fluffy winter coats. The colder temperatures have been a bit of a shock to our systems. But when the reached the warmth and safety of home they started shedding their backpacks and various layers and welcomed unthawing with hot cocoa.

Our Thanksgiving break has officially begun.

I think we are all ready for a few days off of school and schedule and routine. I'm certainly looking forward to some slower mornings with no rush to get out of pajamas and plenty of cartoons and snuggling. Perhaps even a breakfast of doughnuts one morning.

I think we might pull out our big plastic bins of Christmas decorations and start decking our halls this week. When my seven-year-old heard that I almost did it myself yesterday, she was quite disappointed that I didn't end up doing it. She has been pouting the past week that the radio station hasn't started playing Christmas music. She is more than ready for the holiday season to be in full swing.

I'm just happy to have a little time with all three girls at home. And if we can get into the holiday mood, all the better.


xoxo, christine

Nov 19, 2015

5 Random Things

So, because I promised myself I would get to bed before ten tonight and it's already after ten-thirty and I am running on empty as I sit here in front of the computer trying to write, I am just going to give you five random things. Because, well, for the reasons I just mentioned. You're welcome.

1. I made homemade pizza with whole wheat dough tonight for dinner tonight. I'm sorry, it's just not Punch Pizza or Pizza Luce or pretty much any pizza delivery. It was pretty good, don't get me wrong, and the whole wheat fills you up and stays with you longer, so that is a definite bonus, but my goodness I don't know if it will ever fill my good old-fashioned craving when it comes to pizza. But, I'll keep trying, because we are trying to cut back on white flour and feed our family more whole foods. But man, I don't think I can ever one hundred percent give up Punch Pizza or Pizza Luce. Ever.

2. I washed my pizza down with a coke and had a piece of candy for dessert. So, yes, that feeding our family more whole foods is going really well, thankyouverymuch.

3. The past two nights Paige has put six socks on her foot as her "cast" and used two hula hoops as her crutches. It drives her older sister crazy, for some reason, and all I can envision are the hula hoops breaking and leaking liquid all over the house.

4. One of Nora's favorite things to do is to get really frustrated and mad at me and scream and hit me. She especially likes to do it at any point in the day when I try to brush her sisters' hair, wash dishes, fold laundry, or basically anything that does not involve giving her all the attention. Sometimes it makes me want to scream and other times it makes me laugh. I find that my consistency is key in these situations. (hopefully the sarcasm was clear there)

5. I almost took out our Christmas decorations today. Nora and I were at IKEA and it made me want to get all home decoratey with the holiday cheer. But I didn't.



And, there you go. Five random things and it's only eleven, so I'm practically going to bed on time tonight. (Insert the yellow emoji with his squinty eyes and tongue sticking out here.)

xoxo, christine

Nov 18, 2015

Our Love Energy

I put Nora to bed tonight.

Just like I do most nights. Rocking, nursing, rocking. Sometimes when she doesn't quite seem ready to be put in her crib, I lay her against me, her head on my shoulder.


We rocked a few minutes longer tonight. Nestled against me, I was acutely aware of our chests pressed together, a thin layer between my heart and hers. My love for her a living, breathing thing. An energy that increases in strength when we are connected.


I riled her up tonight. Right before bed. I hate it when Adam riles her up right before bed. I hate it when he riles any of them up right before bed. But for some reason tonight it was me. Somehow we started wandering around the house popping out from behind doorways at each other and squealing with laughter after I yelled, Boo! And instead of stopping after a time or two I kept going. And going. And getting the big girls into it too.

A half hour later we started petering out, which is good because it was already an hour after she normally goes to bed. I'm not really sure why I didn't feel the rush to get her to bed like I usually do. She didn't get a nap today, so keeping her up later than normal is a bit of a risk. If she's too overtired (or riled up -- ahem) she has a hard time going to bed.



Sometimes when it's time to settle down and go into her room for our bedtime routine she fights me, whether she's overtired or not. But tonight, even though when I told her it was time for bed she fussed, as soon as we got into the bedroom she snuggled right in, ready to nurse and rock and nurse and cuddle.

I held her against my chest, breathing in our love energy. I treasure these moments, knowing that she will grow out of them, knowing that sometimes during the day it is really hard to feel our connection. She wiggled a little, her sign that it's time for her to lay down, our time done until next time.


I took in one last big breath, our hearts beating together, our energy fizzling, and said good night. And it was. It was such a good night. Whether she sleeps well tonight or not, it was worth it. It was all worth it.

It always is.

xoxo, christine

Nov 17, 2015

Working Girl

I have a job.

It is part time, in the school district, and a part of a program I feel really good about. All of which is exactly what I was looking for, so I am pretty excited about it.

I'm not sure it will be easy leaving Nora because I have only ever known staying home full-time with my kids, but the part time hours make me less uneasy and my mom is my childcare which helps with the apprehension of leaving my baby. But I'm anticipating some big adjustments, for both her and me.

Being a part of the school district is a huge bonus though. I really wanted to be able to be available to be home during my kids' school breaks. And, again, the part time hours mean I can still volunteer for field trips and classroom help as well.

But, it is all going to be a big change. I haven't had a job since leaving on maternity leave when Hope was born almost eight years ago. I'm a little nervous, but mostly about handling the adjustment of what being a part time working mom looks like. I have no idea what it's going to look like for me and, as a planner, that is a little overwhelming and scary.

It will be good though. Through all of my apprehension and nervousness and sadness about leaving Nora, I do believe that this is a good thing.

I have a job. Whew. I can't believe I'm saying those words.

And for everyone who sent out kind thoughts and words for my job search, thank you. Thank you very much.

xoxo, christine

Nov 16, 2015

When I'm Not Getting Enough Sleep

I am not getting enough sleep. I can tell because I am on edge (more than usual), irritable (more than usual), and at night everything feels completely overwhelming and impossible.

This last one does happen, in fact, it used to happen a lot, but I have come to realize that the falling apart is due to lack of sleep. There are actually evenings where I can be overwhelmed with everything that needs to get crossed off the To Do List without having a nervous breakdown about it. But if my body isn't getting the rest it needs, night time is a bad time for me.

It's taken me a long time to realize this. Like, years and years. And still sometimes I forget. And then my husband will tell me, Go to bed. You just need to go to bed. And I get all upset and offended because what I am freaking out about is clearly important and urgent and worth freaking out about.

Except really it's not. Yes, it might be important, and it might even be urgent, but it very rarely is worth freaking out about. So, yes, he is right. And I know that. And most of the time I can accept that. Because when I do go to bed and wake up in the morning my mind feels clearer and my perspective is better.

That huge long impossible list is still just as huge and long but I know that I can focus on taking one thing at a time. The 'impossible' part of my mindset is taken out of the equation and amazingly I can figure out how to solve the problem. Or at least take the necessary steps in order to check something off my list.

And that is not happening right now. It's evening and all-of-a-sudden I am convinced that nothing will ever get finished, that any hobbies I have are pointless, and that everything is just.too.hard.

So sleep. I need more of it.

Go to bed, Christine. Just go to bed.

xoxo, christine

Nov 15, 2015

One Day Away

Yesterday I had a day away from my family. A whole twenty-four hours away from being wife and mom. It was my first time being away from Nora for so long. It was her first time overnight without me. And me without her.

It was a quiet and relaxing day, enjoying the company of a couple of good friends. But my body is clearly in a routine because I woke up around 4:30 in the morning convinced that a crying baby startled me from my sleep.

It is amazing, sometimes, to think about how little of myself my life revolves around. The thing is, I want my life to revolve around my kids. I want to pour my energy and love into them with all of my being.

But.

But, I don't want to completely lose myself. I don't want to forget that I am worth making time for. That my interests and desires are just as important as my kids' and my husband's. Giving myself time away from the demands of motherhood and giving into my own needs is so necessary and needed.

It's hard sometimes, to remember that. As much as I want and need breaks away from my family, I don't want to miss out on anything. I wanted to know what they were doing and for my husband to send me photos of them throughout the day. I thoroughly enjoyed the time with my friends, but I missed my family.

I need to make time for myself. I need to make me time a priority, just like I do family time.

It's good for me. And it's good for my family. I am a better wife and mother and person when I am able to take a little time just for me. It can't always be for twenty-four hours, but even a few hours here and there can help reenergize and refill my tank.

But I'll take twenty-four hours too. In fact, I'm thinking this should become more of quarterly thing.

xoxo, christine

Nov 14, 2015

Everywhere

"later that night
i held an atlas in my lap
ran my fingers across the whole world
and whispered
where does it hurt?

it answered
everywhere
everywhere
everywhere."

-- Warsan Shire

Nov 13, 2015

Prière Pour Paris

What can I write that is worthy of our sorrow?
What can I say to those in the depth of despair?

My heart is heavy.
With every tragedy it gains new pounds, the sorrow a weight that pulls it down.

There is so much darkness right now.
I don't want to keep my eyes open.
Yet even when they are open I still can not see.

The darkness is everywhere.
It is suffocating.
How can we see? How can we breath?

My words are empty echos.
They are in the middle of chaos.

How can I sit here and cry?
How can I sit here and live?

We call out for answers,
for understanding.

What do we tell our children?
How do we bring them up to survive?

I don't want them just to survive. I want them to thrive.
I want them to see the world not as dark.
I want them to see the world as light.

Even in darkness there is light, they say.
Where is the light?

Where is the light?


xoxo, christine

Nov 12, 2015

And So It Begins

Well, it's done. Today I purchased an actual Christmas gift. The first of the season. Although, I suppose it could be a birthday gift since we do have a birthday to celebrate seven days after Christmas, but I'm pretty sure it's going to be a Christmas gift. And, more importantly, when I bought it I had it in mind for Christmas.

My whole plan of getting the holiday shopping done before December 1st is feeling more and more unfeasible . I am still obsessing and stressing about gifts, I'm just doing it in November instead of December. And I feel stressed out at the idea of not getting everything done before the end of the month. So my mind is on overdrive yelling at me that YOU MUST HAVE ALL YOUR GIFT IDEAS FIGURED OUT NOW AND THEN GET THEM BECAUSE TIME IS RUNNING OUT!!!

I am pretty sure that I have brought up Christmas gift ideas to my husband every single day for the last five days. So, not really stopping me from focusing on the material side of Christmas. But, maybe come December my craziness will be a distant memory and the month will be joy and peace and goodwill to all??? Maybe? Please? I hope?

How does one survive the holiday shopping without the chaos and stress? Any ideas? Tips?

Most years I have solid ideas for what I want to get the girls, but this year I'm kind of struggling, which is perhaps why I feel the need to discuss and over analyze and talk about and reanalyze my thoughts on the topic every.single.day.

But then, I just looked at the calendar and realized it's only November 12th. It's not even the mid date of the month. And, as my husband so dearly pointed out, I don't have to have everything done by December 1st. That is my own personal deadline. I can always (dramatic pause) change it.

So, you know. Maybe I can ease off on the craziness a little bit.

But for now I'm going to bask in the start of my holiday shopping and celebrate with a big mug of hot cocoa.

xoxo, christine


Nov 11, 2015

Aaand, It's Off!

My seven-year-old got her cast off today. Oh, did I forget to mention that she had a cast? Because she broke her arm? (I guess that's what happens when you don't blog for a month.)

So, the clunky, bright orange, weight that was wrapped around her right arm (yes, her writing arm) for the past four weeks was finally removed. And we were all Hooray! It's coming off! Back to our regularly scheduled programing! Monkey bars! Gym class! Diving head-first down the slide!

Our jubilee was short-lived though, because we soon discovered that activities are still limited for another two weeks. Two weeks! Which, to be honest, does not seem that far away to me, after all the past four weeks went by pretty quickly and in two weeks time it'll be Thanksgiving (!!), but for a seven-year-old well, talk about the devastation.

I understand though, and if I had actually taken the time to think about it beforehand, I would not have been so surprised. Her poor little wrist hasn't been moved for the past four weeks. It is incredibly stiff and extremely weak. She and her wrist need time to regain mobility and strength before venturing on something as risky as the playground equipment.

Which is most definitely good and necessary considering how little she moved it the rest of the day today. Apparently when your wrist hasn't moved for a month it feels scarily odd to have it free and naked again. (Again, a thought I didn't even consider because well, I've never had a cast on before.)



So, we are taking it a little more slowly than we thought. Sitting out recess and gym and dance class. (Sad face.) But the cast is off! Which is still exciting.

And I am mostly thrilled because her arm can finally get a good cleaning again. No, I did not smell her cast, but she assured me that it was getting stinky, which is pretty much when I started counting down the days of removal with her.

Two more weeks. Then you can slide down the slide head-first as much as you want. Well...maybe...

xoxo, christine

Nov 10, 2015

Routine

We are a family of routine. We like them and we make them rather quickly. So when a routine gets changed, even if it is for a good and happy reason (like Adam being home from work) we seem to all get a little thrown for a loop.

I love when Adam is able to be home during the work week. It does not happen often, which is perhaps part of what makes it feel special, but when he is home it feels like bonus time. Whether that time is spent working on projects, or running errands, or sharing a lunch, it is an actual welcome change from our routine.

But it doesn't come without complications. Our morning routine somehow feels more stressful when he is home. There is something about the extra body or our unfamiliarity with each other's morning movements that seem to keep us stumbling over each other. And time moves faster on the mornings he is home, forcing me to push harder and faster to get the older girls out to the bus stop on time.

Nora had a terribly difficult afternoon today, which I am not hinting is a direct result of our change in routine. She did, however, have several variables working against her, one of which was her change in routine. It's a delight to have Daddy home midweek, but it still is not our "usual." But, she also had a rough night last night, seems to be getting a few molars, and took a nap that was about two hours too short. When the ingredients fall together just so, it is inevitable that the afternoon falls apart just so as well, which is exactly what happened.

The minutes between five thirty and seven o'clock seemed impossibly prolonged as she toddled around the house whining and crying and frustrated and angry because I just wasn't understanding and doing what she wanted. It was a night that I frantically wanted to end ASAP, like twenty minutes ago. But I didn't put her to bed at five thirty. I knew it would be a bigger mistake to get her down too early than it was a fight to be in the same room with her until seven.

I gave her all the attention I could muster, which was only sometimes the right amount to keep her from yelling, and when the clock hit 6:58 I was in her bedroom with the lights out and bedtime routine started.

We like our routines in this house, it is true. But we sometimes like variation too. And even though we trip over each other when Adam is off midweek, we would gladly adjust to a new routine if he could be home during the day more often.

It is always nice to have him home.

xoxo, christine


Nov 9, 2015

Bunk Bed High Jinks

We are all perched in the bedroom. One on the top bunk doodling in a notebook, another throwing her hands up while jumping up and down for her victory dance, a third one peeking over the dresser trying to find things she normally isn't allowed to touch, and me sitting against the wall with my legs stretching all the way to the bed, an unintentional divider splitting the space.

When the little one pulls at the bed, jutting out her chin and grunting her request, it becomes an invitation for the rest of us. As she flops her body back and forth on the mattress, snuggling under the covers and then bouncing up and down, we become like a moth to the flame, we must join the fun. The bed is beckoning us to climb aboard, and we do.

The four of us are squeezed onto the bed. The little one squeals and laughs, delighting in our participation. We wrestle each other into the pillows, giggling as we try to avoid knocking heads. The older two take turns driving what has now become the boat, and at some point we all start singing about the foot bone connecting to the ankle bone and all dem bones.

Eventually it is time to wind down, the little one has to go to bed soon and I realize that a quieter activity makes adjusting for bedtime a little easier. Our adventures on the bed are over, for tonight.


I am left with the sunny feeling of having this time with them. It was perhaps a small sliver of a moment, but I will hold it in my heart. Not all moments are so joyful and filled with ease when three children try to play together. But tonight, for that small moment, there was no arguing, no pouting, no tears. No yelling, or frustration, or anger. Just smiles and snuggles and being together.

And I hope that they remember it with warm hearts. I hope that they think back on times like this and remember how we all played together and laughed and lived so deeply in our connection to each other. I hope I remember it too. One of the memories I can pull out after a particularly frustrating day, and remember that the days aren't all bad. We have a lot of these good moments too. They are here, waiting to be remember, to be acknowledged, to be called upon at anytime.

This night time bed party just filled my tank to the brim. And I am so grateful to embracing the moment and climbing onto the bed with them. That the four of us crowded together with our feet in each other's faces and our arms wrapped around each other and our laughter echoing our hearts' content.

My heart is content.

xoxo, christine

Nov 8, 2015

I Hope You Know

Do you know how many days it's been since we last talked? I don't either, although I know I could figure it out if I really wanted to. But I don't really want to. I don't want to know how long it has been since I heard your voice, since we whispered secrets, since our laughter sang a duet.

I don't know why it is so difficult. Because it's not difficult at all. How hard is it to pick up the phone? I don't even have to dial your number. One finger tap and your name pops up, the phone ringing as I wait to connect.

I used to think that our conversations were so sporadic because we thought we needed to have hours available to catch up and reconnect. But we have agreed time and time again that even five minutes is better than nothing. That we both would rather have a few short moments at more frequent intervals than to go so long in between talking. And yet.

I hope that you know it's unintentional. I hope that you know that I am not avoiding you. That I don't purposely think about not calling you. That I don't sit around thinking about how I should call you and then don't.

I hope that you know you are still so very important to me. I hope that you know that I think about you every day and wonder what you are doing and how you are feeling.

I hope that you know that I don't take our relationship for granted. That I know the reason we are so close is because of you. I know that it's because of me too, but I hope that you know I see what you've put into our relationship. That I can not imagine having someone else where you are, or (even worse) not having someone there at all.

I hope that you know that I miss you like crazy and wish we lived closer.


I am lucky because I have never known my life without you in it. You have always been there, a constant person, another someone in my life who I know will hold me close, whether I'm laughing or crying. I hope you know I will do the same for you.

No matter how many minutes, hours, days, or weeks go by between seeing you or even hearing you, you will always be right here.

I wonder if when I saw you for the first time I knew. I wonder if I knew who you were and who we would become together. You will always be the first friend my heart grabbed ahold of. And it will never let go.

I love you.

xoxo, christine


Nov 7, 2015

Goodnight and What Should I Do?

They are sleeping, the three of them. One tucked between railings with her arms resting up by her head. The other two sprawled next to each other in the double bed, heads off of the pillows, hair tousled in their faces.



I here I sit, with the knowledge that they are warm and cozy and (most importantly) quiet, and I try to decide what I want to do. Should I watch TV? I don't have any must see TV that I watch anymore, but I'm sure I could find something to zone out to. Should I read? I definitely would, except I don't have a book right now. Note to self, get to the library. Should I practice my German? Thank goodness for Duolingo. Should I check Instagram? I need to pick a photo to post. Should I get on the computer? Do some Amazon browsing? Download and edit some photos? Check Facebook? Organize my emails? Watch a movie? Read a magazine? Journal? Sew?

It's like, as soon as I know that the girls are safely asleep I feel like there are about a million things I need to do. None of which, you will note, is folding laundry or doing dishes. (Even though those most assuredly need to be done.)

Mostly, I should make sure to get myself to bed at a decent time. Yet the earlier the kids fall asleep the harder it seems to be for me to go to bed myself. I know, deep down I know, that I need to go to bed and get some sleep. But there's something in me that fights it. I can't possibly go to sleep yet. This is the only kid-free time I have! I have to doallthethings before I go to bed. Even though I'm going to regret staying up until one in the morning when I have to get up tomorrow at seven because the toddler is awake and ready to play, I still stay up until an unnatural time because WHAT ELSE CAN I DO!? THE CHILDREN ARE ALL SLEEPING!! I MUST FIND THINGS TO DO BECAUSE I CAN DO THEM WITHOUT LITTLE ONES AROUND! AND QUICK LET'S DO SOMETHING ELSE EVEN THOUGH I'M EXHAUSTED AND SHOULD GO TO SLEEP, WHAT ELSE CAN I DO WITH ALL THIS TIME!?!?

And all-of-a-sudden I have whittled away my night on pointless internet wanderings and it's midnight and my coach has turned back into a pumpkin and I am going to regret it all in the morning.

And when I do regret it in the morning I tell myself that I will go to bed early that night. But do I go to bed early? Of course not. The vicious cycle just continues on. And on. And on.


To which I say, TONIGHT! TONIGHT it will end! (Even though I know that it won't because it's already after ten o'clock and I'm not nearly close to being done with my random internet searches.)

So goodnight! And off I go to Google something very important and urgent that can't possibly wait until tomorrow. (But of course you know that this is sarcasm because I waste my nights on the internet on things that really are not so important.)

xoxo, christine

Nov 6, 2015

Say, Cheese!

I am how many days into writing this month? Six? And already I feel like I'm puttering out, running on fumes, grasping at straws.

How many idioms can I give? Don't worry. I'll stop.

Anyway, it's day six and I'm already thinking, Maybe I'll just find a touching quote and add a cute photo of my kids...that counts, right?

Speaking of a photo of my children, in an effort to cram way too much into my life and add several balls at a time to my juggling act -- because who actually only adds one ball at a time? That would be...practical -- I am trying to get back into photography again. Which means I've subjected my kids to being in front of my big camera again.

Girls! Look this way!

Girls! Smile!

Girls! Girls! Don't worry about Nora. You just look at me and smile!

Noooora. Look at Mama!

Look at Mama!

What's this!?! Is that Mickey Mouse?

Noooora. Boo!

Girls! Keep looking at me!

Do you know how hard it is to get a photo of all three girls together? And smiling? And smiling together?

I have about 574836362 that I've taken and about zero that I'm one hundred percent happy with. Is this this normal for photography? Because let me tell you it is so discouraging. (I had forgotten how frustrating it is to take so many photos and be so disappointed with them. No wonder my motivation ebbs and flows when it comes to photography.)

Anyway, it's Friday. Hooray! And I managed to write without really writing but also without just posting a photo and calling it good. Double hooray!

But don't worry. I'll still include a cute photo.



xoxo, christine

Nov 5, 2015

Minty Mochas Already

I did it.

I had my first "holiday" coffee from my favorite coffee shop.

Snowflakes and mittens and holiday season decorations everywhere.

I don't even feel bad about it. It tasted that delicious.

It doesn't feel like November though, despite what the calendar says. And it certainly doesn't feel like the holiday season, even though every retail store is trying to convince us otherwise.. The weather is unseasonably warm (I am not complaining) and that by itself makes winter feel far far away. (Thank goodness.)

But I am hopping aboard the holiday shopping bandwagon. However, it's only because I want to take a cue from some others and get all the consumerism done by the end of November so that December can be spent focusing on memory-making, traditions, and that cozy family time. I don't want to shove Christmas down my kids throats at the beginning of November, but we might casually mention that Santa no longer takes requests after Thanksgiving.

I'm pretty sure I wrote about this last year. And I pretty much feel the same way this year.

I am not excited for the cold and snow (yet), but I am getting excited for the magical feeling of the holidays, that sparkly warm feeling that radiates out of people, the generosity that overflows, the traditions that are started and those that continue, and the sweet treats that show up only this time of year.

Don't worry though. I'm not forgetting about Thanksgiving. I could never forget Thanksgiving.

Here's to another holiday coffee tomorrow! And a little bit of the holiday spirit sneaking into your heart!

xoxo, christine

Nov 4, 2015

And the Thunder Rolls

In the far off distance, I hear a quiet roll of thunder. I can tell that it is gradually making it's way toward me, toward us. I can't tell what kind of storm it will be. If it is the loud window-rattling crashing that causes my senses to heighten because I fear the storm's damage. Or if it is the kind of storm with a few bright splashes of light and quiet rumbles that feels like a much-needed shower, washing away the dirt and old and bringing a reawakening the earth when it is over.

Is it the rain that pelts so hard it stings your skin? Or is the rain that falls gently in big drops - the kind of rain that makes you want to put on your rain boots and dance outside?

There have been signs of an impending storm for months. I have done everything from bury my head and pretend I can't hear it, to pasting on a fake smile and pretending I'm not nervous or worried, to falling apart and anticipating the worst.

Is it always like this with change?

I can hear it coming, but I'm not sure if it's something to fear or to dread. Probably a little of both, to be honest, but change can be scary and overwhelming and does not always bring out the best in me.

I have discovered, as I anticipate my day-to-day routine changes, that I have really enjoyed where I am and what has worked for our family thus far. I am not a an über-stay-at-home mom. It is not my forte, I am not good at juggling the laundry, cleaning, child-rearing, and everything in between. However, as change hovers on the horizon I can tell you with certainty that I am incredibly glad that this is where I've been able to be the past seven and half years. I can confidently say that I like being a stay-at-home mom, even on the days I want to run out of the house screaming as soon as my husband comes home.

Being home with my kids has been a great gift for me. And even though I haven't always felt this way, and it's taken me quite awhile to realize it, I am so thankful that this is what worked for our family.

Maybe that is why the thunder is the distance is giving me so much pause. I am afraid to lose some of what I am so grateful for. Except, I know that there are so many more good things coming with the rain. I'm just hoping it doesn't sting too much.

xoxo, christine

Nov 3, 2015

Warming Up Old Muscles

I have not been writing much lately. Not here, not in a journal, not anywhere. At first it felt foreign, stressful even, not taking the time to sit down and put down some words. But as the time went on, the feeling of writing and what that means for me slipped further away, until the wholeness that writing used to give me was nothing but a ghost of it's former self.

I could hardly remember the feeling of wanting it, of needing it. And the more time that passed without writing, the more I convinced myself that I guess I wasn't that interested in it. I guess it wasn't as big a part of me as I thought.

And I'm still unsure, even though sometimes I miss it.

I've always had a hard time sticking to something that doesn't have an obligation or expectation put on me by someone else.

In any case, a blogger I follow seems to have been experiencing something similar. And she put it all into words that spoke so much to me. At the end of October I decided to try to write every day during the month of November. And apparently, so has she:

I'm trying to blog everyday this November. Not because I really want to blog anymore, but because I want to write again. I want to exercise that muscle with words that have been sitting inside my head for many months. Writing is still a sweet release that unburdens my heart and gives me peace. I've been missing that. But I guess not missing it enough that I've taken the time to say hi here lately.

Anyway, it's a good post. I feel similarly to what she is saying. Blogging does not feel the same to me as it used to, although I do sometimes miss writing. Not blogging, just writing. Mostly I miss giving myself time to think and put those thoughts onto paper. I miss giving myself the time and permission to do something I enjoy.

So, here's to November. To stretching out my writing muscles. To deep breaths and open minds and letting out that sweet release.

And to more beautiful fall days full of the warmth of a full and happy heart.

xoxo, christine





Nov 2, 2015

For Reese

Today I remember a special baby girl and the family that should have been celebrating her first birthday. I don't understand. And it isn't fair. There is nothing right about losing a child. Ever.

Today I held space in my heart. I let her family know that I remembered.

We have a blue candle that we got for Calvin. We light it on the day he was delivered, and any other day we feel like it. But it hasn't been lit since this past August. Except that I took it down and lit it today. At 4:47.

We lit the candle and sat down and read our book. The book that we read for Calvin. Except that today it wasn't for my lost baby. It was for someone else's.

It was for Reese.




Nov 1, 2015

Halloweekend

It's November. It's November!?!? It's November!

How in the world is it already November? I am pretty much open to it being the Christmas season before Thanksgiving. I'm okay with it. I accept it. I even embrace it. I am not, however, embracing Christmas before Halloween. But, now that Halloween is over, it's time to break out the Christmas music!

Okay, I might not be quite ready for that, but it does feel like all-of-a-sudden October is over and Christmas is quietly lurking around the corner, waiting to sneak up on me and take me by surprise.

***
But first: Halloween.


Halloween was great. It was wonderful. It was more lovely and exciting than I expected, mostly because I was expecting it to be terribly stressful and overwhelming. The kids were happy and excited and Nora was pretty much the most adorable trick-or-treater ever. (Not that I'm bias or anything.) She had no clue what was going on but as soon as the first house put candy in her bucket she knew she wanted more. I only kept her out for a few blocks, but even as her head started to bob on my shoulder she refused to let me carry her bucket for her. No way was she letting anyone else touch her precious goodies.


(She has this adorable thing where when someone asks her a question she will answer it by her eyes getting wide and either shaking her head no, or nodding her head yes. Sometimes I'm not sure she actually knows what we're asking, but other times, oh she knows. Last night when
I offered to carry her candy, I got those big wide eyes and a couple of shakes of the head.)

The older girls lasted so much longer than they ever have in the past, previously coming home with buckets filled half way, and this year filling it up to the tippy top. This year I let them eat as much candy as they wanted after we got home. A totally new and foreign concept to all of us. But nobody complained of a bellyache (except me) and nobody threw up, so I'm pretty glad that I was able to just let them really indulge for one night.



Now of course it's back to the tough love of limiting candy. (I say as I sit here stuffing a Baby Ruth bar into my mouth. Shh...)

October was a good month, ending on the perfect note of children giggling and skipping down the street, of joy and excitement dressing up in favorite costumes, of sugar high after sugar high followed by a crash onto pillows, and so so much love and family.



Happy end of Halloweekend to everyone! And a big and happy welcome to November!

xoxo, christine

Sep 21, 2015

Transitions

We are all over the place with transitions right now.

*****

The adjustment and transition of adding a toddler to two older kids isn't quite as smooth and calm as it was with a baby. It's not even because of the literal toddling around that she is doing. She is growing, and so is her personality, and so is her drive. She is a feisty little thing, who is daring and determined. And I love her little big personality. I love it with every fiber of my being, but by the end of the day, whew, I am left exhausted.

I do not remember fourteen months being so demanding and needy. And yet, as we move further and further into the season, I have vague recollections of stubborn toddlers throwing themselves on the floor, or crinkling up their noses, or pointing adamantly at what they want (and are not getting) and screaming. I have a renewed appreciation for nap time. (Not that I was ever taking it for granted.)

*****

Also, I have recently taken it upon myself to (re)learn how to sew. For a very good reason, Adam has gained priority to the computer in the evenings, which limits its availability for writing (we have one computer and no, I can not do much writing during the day because of said fourteen-month-old). So since my creative soul was not getting what it needed from words, I turned to fabric and my mother's sewing machine.

*****

We have spent a lot of time lately discussing and contemplating what we are doing, what we want to be doing, what makes us happy, what we want for our lives, what we want for our family, where we are and where we want to be. I have spent many hours logging in thoughts on what I want and what I need and what our family needs.

I can not say that I ever imagined living in my "starter home" with three kids at age thirty-three. But then, I don't think I ever really could imagine what my life would look like at thirty-three at all. There are so many things that I am in love with about our life. There is so much that brings me happiness and joy.

But I can't help feeling like there is a whole part of my psyche, a whole big part of my soul that is unexplored and unexamined. I feel like it's that whole "you only use 2% of your brain" type of thing, except that I can (and should) be able to be using more. I have never been good at deeply exploring what makes me happy. What I am interested in. What makes me feel the most alive. I have never been a fall-head-first-into-something-and-gain-as-much-knowledge-and-experience-as-I-can type person. I am much more of a do-several-things-average/mediocre rather than become-an-expert-at-one-thing.

My husband recently cautioned me against spreading myself too thin and while I don't necessarily think it's happening, I understand and appreciate the sentiment. I tend to find something and dabble, until something gets in the way and suddenly it's too hard and too much work.

There is a part of me that thinks I need to change this. I need to fix this. And then there's a part of me that wonders if it's okay for that to just be who I am. If it's okay for me to give up every time I feel like it because if I really loved it, if it was a true passion, that drive and fire would be ignited and I would think it worth the difficulty and work to continue.

And then I go back to just wondering if I'm lazy. In which case it is most definitely something I need to change.

*****

And speaking of change, I do not like it. I have a hard time with it. I like things the way that I like them and I don't want things changing unless they change in a way that I want and I decide.

*****

Also, I'm looking for a part-time job.

And I have nothing else to say about that.

*****

All this to say, there is lot going on over here right now. It is good and exciting and scary and terrible (except not terrible), but the Being in Transitions right now is putting me all over the place. I am up and down and side to side and topsy turvy and mixed up and all around. And in it all I am trying to find what calms me, what quiets my non-stop internal conversations and gives me peace.

xoxo, christine

Sep 9, 2015

Pumpkin Flavored Back-to-School

It's back-to-school time which means that every social media newsfeed is full of first day of school photos, the heavy sticky air is replaced with a cool crispness, the bright green tree tops are transitioning to yellows and reds, and pumpkin-flavored everything can be found in every cafe.

Of course, our school started last week, when pretty much the only accurate part of that previous statement was the pumpkin-flavored everything. Somehow mother nature didn't get the autumn memo come September first and we reached temperatures in the nineties just in time for my kids to be in air-condition-free classrooms.


Today it actually does have a hint of autumn to the air, which makes me simultaneously happy (I love fall!) and depressed (I'm not ready for winter!).

This year I sent two kids off on the bus, and the only reason I didn't bawl was because of the huge smile Paige managed to have climbing onto the bus. Our first week was pretty jumbled and unexpected because of an unanticipated illness causing Hope to be sent home on her first day. (She gets to claim the "first child sent home sick from school" award from the school nurse.)

In any case, because of that she was not able to be on the bus with Paige for Paige's first day. Cue my mama heart almost exploding with terror and fear. But Paige handled it with more poise and maturity than I ever would have thought and asked (all my herself) the little girl at our bus stop if they could sit together. Thus, Paige's huge smile as the bus took her away, and my heart not completely splattered all over the pavement.



I can not believe that my two big girls are in school all day, and although I wish I could be one of those moms that claps her hands and does a back-to-school dance, I'm much more in the 'I miss my babies', holding-back-the-tears camp.

It does help me having Nora and home and we are s-l-o-w-l-y finding our own rythm to these week days. I'm not used to just having a little one at home so I feel like I should be able to get so much done (look at me cook and clean and clean and do stuff and and and), except that Nora's a little more needy than a five-year-old or a seven-year-old so my To Do list isn't getting crossed off quite as quickly as I was hoping.

For all of my complaining and whining and struggles though, I like it. I really do. I like that it has worked for our family for me to stay home. I like that I am available for sick-child-at-school-pick-up and middle of the day grocery runs and field trip volunteers. I like that I pack the lunches and see the big girls off on the bus each morning. I like that I was able to do Mommy and Me classes with each of my girls and have play dates and go to parks and wander aimlessly pushing a stroller around the mall in the middle of winter. I like that I can sit on the floor and play Little People with Nora as she climbs on my lap.

It will be good, this year, I know. I'm not quite plugging my fingers in my ears and running in the opposite direction of my kids growing up and school starting, but I'm not quite ready to fully embrace it yet either. This transition to back-to-school and homework and fall activities and changes in schedules is an adjustment, sometimes more so for me than for anyone else in my family. But it will be good. I know it will.

Now excuse me while I try to get myself in the spirit with some pumpkin muffins.

xoxo, christine

Aug 31, 2015

August 17

It's two week later. Two weeks and I didn't write a post for my baby boy. If it were any of my girls I would've made sure to sit down and write. If not the day of, at least within the next several days. If it had been for any of the girls it would've been a birthday post.

But I didn't. I haven't.

And now here it is, almost two weeks after the anniversary of saying hello and goodbye. Except we never got to say hello.

I don't like calling it his birthday. I can't explain it any better than to say it doesn't feel like it was his birthday, even though I suppose I technically birthed him that day.

That is the day they gave me drugs to induce pain. Drugs to help my body recognize that the baby inside me was no longer alive. Drugs to help get him out of my womb and into a tomb.

(Too cold? Too vivid?)

I don't like to call it his birthday because I know that if things had been different, if life had been different, if he had been different, it wouldn't have been his birthday. You might tell me You never know but I do. I know. His body came into our world two and half months early.

He wouldn't have been two and half months early. He would've come at the expected time. The end of October or beginning of November. I know you'll tell me I can't know, but I know. I just do.

August 17th would not have been his birthday.

If things were different.

But they weren't. He was never meant to make it nine months. He was never meant to say hello. He was never meant to live.

He came into our world already gone. And that is they day we remember.

I won't call it his birthday.

(Except to my girls, because for right now that's the easiest. But even when they say, "It's Baby Calvin's Birthday!" or "Baby Calvin's two!" it makes me flinch. Because it doesn't feel right. Not to me.)

The day came and went and we recognized it in the way we did last year, with flowers, a bridge, and quiet words. With love sent out into the universe.

He didn't get a birthday post this year. But of course, he never gets a birthday post. Still, there is guilt. There is always guilt.

I did not miss it because I was too busy. It was not because I couldn't find the time to write. It was not because the day passed unnoticed. It was not because Calvin, my son, is not important.

I did not write a post, I have not written in so long, because I don't want to feel my feelings. I don't want to think about or process or spend any time exploring the lurchy gurchy whatever-they-are feelings regarding the loss of my son.

Lately, when something starts to sneak into the corners of my mind I pinch it with my fingernails and throw it into a box as quickly as I can, eager to avoid any of the feeling. I hide that box in the back of the back of the back of the backest closet of my mind.

Basically, I do the extremely healthy thing of avoiding it at all costs. (I do actually realize this is not the healthy thing.)

It's not because I don't love him. It's not because I don't think he's important. It's just because, right now, I can't. Or I don't want to. Or I can't and don't want to. I don't know. Maybe it's all the same.

Either way, it doesn't change reality. He is still not here. And right now that's pretty much all I can say.

I would do it all again a million times over, even knowing that I would never get to hear him cry, look deep into his eyes, kiss his nose, and tell him I love you.

But I do. Oh I do.




Aug 14, 2015

Rock-A-Bye Baby



It is late. Later than usual.

I push open the door and a triangle of light falls across her body. She is in her usual sleeping position, belly down, feet tucked under, butt up in the air.

As I tiptoe toward her she stirs, and I pause hoping not to disrupt her. She has not been sleeping through the night lately.

Her eyelids flutter and she pushes onto all fours. There is no sound, no cry, not even a little peep. Just the rustling of her body movement into standing position. She is still mostly asleep yet vertical in front of me.

I know all of the reasons I shouldn't, all the reasons I will probably regret doing it, but I pick her up anyway.

One leg tucked on either side of me, her head falls to my shoulder and I am acutely aware of how unbaby-like this position is. She is more of a toddler with each passing day.

Her body pressed against me, our breathing finds a rhythm, the rise and fall of each breath in perfect synchronization. And I am so glad I picked her up. No matter what difficulties it might lead to later.

We sway together for a few more minutes before I gently lay her back down. I expect that it will not be this easy, that there will be crying, back rubbing, maybe even nursing. I expect that it will be many minutes until I get to my own bed.

But when I lay her down she rolls onto her belly, clutching her pink bunny. Her eyes are still closed, her breathing is heavy. I touch her matted hair and kiss her head.

I close the door with my baby sleeping soundly on the other side.

Our quiet moment. The perfect ending to the day. The comfort of those few minutes with my baby tucks me into bed, promising sweet dreams for both of us.



xoxo, christine

Jul 22, 2015

It's Not Just Texting Anymore

Okay, here goes. I am going to be very real here. Because this is a very real issue.

Last night I read this post on Facebook from Momastery. (If you don't have the desire, or time, to read it I will summarize it as basically addressing the issue of being distracted by our phones while driving, how careless it is, how most everyone does it, how we're putting everyone in danger, and how she and her husband made a contract to put their phones in the glove compartment while driving to keep the temptation away. She says so much more than this though, I encourage you to read it.)

Her post led to a conversation with my husband. Although glued to his phone, he does not have nearly as many opportunities as I do to put himself and our kids at risk. Unlike me he is at work all day, and unlike me he takes public transportation during the day. However, HOWEVER, we both have done it. We both have been in the car, in the driver's seat, and checked our phones.

Here's the thing. We think that because we're not texting, because we aren't tapping away at the screens and squinting to find the right letters that we're safe. We're not texting and driving, oh no, not me. I would never be so reckless and careless and stupid to do that. But it doesn't matter. It's not just texting anymore. It's EVERYTHING.

Do you peek at your phone while driving? Do you? Because I know I do. And I know other people do to. I've looked over when passing other cars and seen them. My phone "dings" announcing a new text and I just peek at it to see who it's from. I'm stopped at a red light and I just peek at Instagram to see who posted since I last checked.

I'm not texting. I'm not. I'm just checking. It's just a quick glance. No biggie, right? Wrong.

Are we really so addicted to our phones that we can't go twenty minutes without looking at it? Are we so attached to our electronics that we can't just drive our cars? Why does being in the car automatically feel like the best time to make a phone call? Why does a red light seem like a perfect opportunity to check in on Facebook?

My husband and I have made an agreement. Our phones go away when we are in the driver's seat. I have three kids in the car with me ninety-nine percent of the time. I do not need another distraction. I have three perfect and beautiful and wonderful distractions who I would die for. Why in the world would I be willing to put them at risk by checking my stupid phone?

Not anymore. Not ever again.

This morning I saw this video circulating Facebook. I'm pretty sure it's the video Glennon mentions in her post. It is terrible and painful and raw. And the woman in it is not texting. She is not. She is peeking. She is peeking at her phone and the end result is the worst thing imaginable.

We think that if we're not texting it's okay. It's not that bad. It's not that distracted.

It is.

Please stop. Please make a contract, a pact, a vow to put and KEEP your phone away while in the driver's seat. It's not just texting anymore. It's "peeking" too. It's "checking" too.

Please put your phone away. Please please please. For your family, for your kids, for your safety, for everyone else out on the road. Do not check your phone while driving. It can wait.

xoxo,
christine


Jul 8, 2015

A Birthday Written in the Stars

My dearest Nora May,

Today you turn one. A whole year. 365 days of life. 365 days of you. 365 days since the first moment you came into the world, our world, bright eyed and probably crying (but I don't remember clearly if you actually cried right away or not because I was still reeling from such a fast and painful delivery. I however, was definitely crying.)



Every moment with you has been filled with joy, layered with happiness, wrapped in love. It is like you knew what we needed before you were even here. Although not without your tears or anger, you are a happy baby, your smile garnering comments from strangers wherever we go.

I hardly remember what our life looked like before you, you fit so snuggly into our family, a missing piece we didn't even know was missing until you were here. And then when we held you in our arms, when we brought you home, when we looked at you and snuggled you, it was like, Yes, of course. There you are.

How can it already be a year since you were that teeny seven pound newborn? I look at you and I still see that baby, but then I look again and I see an almost toddler who cruises her twenty-two pounds around the house like the boss, pulling herself onto every piece of furniture she can, going straight for any crumb, any cord, any thing that is sure to elicit a "no-no" from a family member.



This past year has had some difficulties, for sure, but even in my frustrations, even with the agony of sleepless nights, all is well, all is right. On this day last year, on the day you left the comfort and warmth of your home for the past nine months into the unknown and cold of our world, you brought with you so much joy, so much love, so much healing to my mama heart.

My worry of how your sisters would feel, how they would adjust, was unfounded, they opened their arms wide, their hearts already synchronized with yours. You are three sisters, a trio. You look for them when the are not there, you smile when they enter the room, you are ready to get in on their fun.



Nora, this year has gone too quickly, my heart aches at the thought of you no longer being a baby. And yet, I am so happy and thrilled to see you grow and flourish. I could never want to keep you a baby forever. Every day with you is like unwrapping a present. You have given me more perspective, more understanding, and even more love into my heart than I thought was possible.

Your life was written in the stars long before I was ever here. But I am so incredibly thankful, and so incredibly grateful, to be your mother. Happy Birthday, my sweet Nori. I love you SO much. Thank you for bringing your light into our lives. You make it brighter.

Love, hugs, and kisses,
Mommy



Jul 5, 2015

A Very 'Mary' Un-Birthday, to You

I know that birthdays aren't your favorite, at least your own birthdays. I get that. I really do. Marking the passage of one more year, of the illusive Time, the never-ending march toward Next, it does not always feel like a reason to celebrate.

Once you hit a certain age a birthday just doesn't have the same thrill and excitement that it once did. The joy of opening a wrapped up doll when you're a new three-year-old, the anticipation of a turning sweet sixteen, somewhere between becoming an official adult and the years after, a birthday starts to lose it's magic.

But, even though I get it, I still want to tell you Happy Birthday.

I am happy that those 'few' years ago your mother welcomed you into the world with tears and sweat. Another healthy daughter. There were smiles on their faces as they cradled you, kissing your eyes, breathing in the smell of your head, caressing your cheeks. The overwhelming love and joy that your mother and father felt for you, the reason that they celebrated you every year, remembering that first July 5th when you took your first breath, cried your first cry.

I am thankful that, although surely not perfectly (because no one is a perfect parent), they parented you and loved you the best way they knew how. I am thankful for you because you raised a pretty amazing son, who also happens to be my husband. I think it's wonderful that you came into this world, because without you, there would be no him. Without him there would be no us. Without us there would be no family.

All those birthdays led to you having your son. All the birthdays after that led to your son being the kind of man I wanted to marry. All your birthdays after that led us to here, now.

But I am not only thankful for your birthday because I am thankful for the man you helped raise. I am thankful for your birthday too, because I am thankful to have you in my life. You. I am lucky enough to be a woman who can say quite honestly, I like my mother-in-law, I enjoy spending time with her, I respect and admire her, and I love her dearly.

You are an amazing and beautiful person.

And even though it might not always feel the greatest to celebrate turning a year older, I am thrilled to be celebrating such a woman, who raised a son, who welcomed another daughter, who gets to spend time with and love on her granddaughters.

You are why we are celebrating. You are who we want to celebrate.

Happy Birthday!

xoxo, christine



Jun 23, 2015

She'll Always Be My Baby

I imagine it is not easy to be the middle child. One day you are the youngest, the littlest, the cutest, the sweetest, and all-of-a-sudden there is someone younger, smaller, and getting all of the "oh how cute!" comments herself. One day you get first dibs on laps and the next you are relegated to whichever lap is open, if there even is one.

And, while she will always be my baby, Paige is no longer the baby, which can be somewhat of an adjustment. An adjustment, I will add, I think she has handled amazingly well. Of course, that's not to say it's been all happy and easy, but as I look back to the past year, I see our ups and downs with the warmth of knowing Paige is still Paige. Her light is still just as bright, her emotions in just the same spot on her sleeve, her awe of her big sister and her pride at having a little sister growing each day.

Lately I have been reveling in her sweetness, the comments that cause smiles and even sometimes giggles (as long as she isn't caught by surprise and then completely embarrassed).



The other day as she and Nora were high-fiving over and over she said, Mom, it's just like running a mile...but with your hands!

As we pulled out of the driveway we had a direct view of the flowers she and Hope (with the help of their grandma) planted in a pot for their daddy for Father's Day. When I see those flowers, they give me twinkles in my eyes, she told me. And then she sighed.

The way she occasionally asks to be wrapped in a towel and cradled like a baby, googooing and gagaing in true baby form.

When she ties one of Nora's blankets around her shoulders like an Elsa cape, tosses her arms in the air, and starts singing Let it Go.

The way she stands on the couch in her third outfit of the day, most likely a dress, most likely with accessories, as she performs for her audience (real or imaginary).

And most recently, when I had a mini temper tantrum and huffed into the kitchen, I turned around to see her arms reaching out to give me a hug, her wide eyes staring into mine, and her soft words, Mommy? Are you okay?




I know that there is a lot going on right now, with only more to come as she starts full-time school this fall, but I am certainly enjoying what her five-year-old personality gives us every day. And I am incredibly thankful that she is all middle child, just the way she was born to be.

As she used to tell me every night at bedtime, I love you fru and fru, Mom.

I love you through and through too, Paige. Always.




xoxo, christine